Damaged or arthritic joints can make everyday movements, like walking or reaching,
very painful. When treatments such as medications or physical therapy don’t help, joint
replacement surgery may be the best bet. Here is a look at which joints—and their
parts—can be replaced with an artificial one, called a prosthesis.
Sources: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Depending on the con-
dition of the shoulder,
either just the head
(ball) of the upper arm
bone (humerus) is re-
placed or both the ball
and socket (glenoid).
Doctors replace the
damaged parts of
the upper arm bone
(humerus) and the
forearm bone (ulna) on
the pinky finger side.
The damaged ends of
the lower arm bones
(radius and ulna) and
the first row of the
bones at the base of
the hand (carpals) are
removed. The ends of
the radius and some-
times the carpals are
The damaged head of
the thighbone (femur)
and the surface of the
socket (acetabulum) in
the pelvis where the
femur sits are replaced.
The damaged surfaces
at the ends of the
thighbone (femur) and
shinbone (tibia) are
replaced. The under-
side of the kneecap
(patella) may also be
The damaged bone and
cartilage from the leg
portion of the ankle
(tibia) and the foot por-
tion of the ankle (talus)
Our team of orthopedic
surgeons can replace
your worn-out joint and
help you feel better. To
make an appointment,
with metal and plastic surfaces.
A hip replacement involves removing the dam-
aged ball on the upper thighbone and replacing it
with a metal or ceramic ball. The damaged socket is
then replaced with a plastic, ceramic or metal socket
that is implanted into your pelvis.
The length of the surgery depends on how badly
your joint is damaged.
A hip replacement generally takes a few hours
and a knee up to two hours. After surgery, you usu-
ally spend another one to two hours in a recovery
room. With hip or knee surgery, you typically spend
several days in the hospital before going home.
ROAD TO RECOVERY
Most people who have joint
replacement surgery experience a dramatic decrease
in pain in that joint and a significant increase in
their ability to perform daily activities. But it takes
time to recover from the procedure, and it’s im-
portant to follow your doctor’s advice, according
to the NIH.
Shortly after surgery, you will probably be encour-
aged to try out your new joint. With hip and knee
replacements, you will need a walker or crutches
You may have some temporary pain in the new
joint because the surrounding muscles have weak-
ened from disuse.
The pain can be helped with medication and
should last only a few weeks or months. Over time
and with proper exercise, the pain will lessen, flex-
ibility will increase and movement will improve.
That’s why exercise is an important part of the
recovery process, advises the AAOS.
Physical therapy can usually begin the day after
surgery. Your doctor can recommend an exercise
program that is best for your new joint.
Be careful not to overdo it after surgery, however.
Less vigorous activities, such as walking and golf,
may be permitted, but more strenuous sports, such
as skiing or running, may be discouraged.
While joint replacement should improve your
quality of life for years to come, your new joint may
not last for the rest of your life. Many artificial joints
last at least 10 to 15 years. Depending on your age, you
may eventually need a second total joint replacement.
Fortunately, materials and techniques used in
joint replacement continue to improve through the
efforts of orthopedic surgeons, engineers and other
scientists, reports the NIH.
To find out if total joint replacement surgery is
right for you, talk to your doctor.
How to stop
You have enough to deal
with in life without adding
shoulder pain to the mix.
damaged by arthritis, a
severe fracture or other
problems can often be
replacement surgery is
less common than sur-
gery to replace hips and
knees, it can relieve pain
just as successfully, ac-
cording to the American
Academy of Orthopaedic
inserting a stem with a
metal ball on top into
the bone of the upper
arm. The ball fits into
a plastic socket that’s
placed in the shoulder
the condition of the
involve replacing only
the ball portion of the
After surgery, your
arm will be in a sling for
up to a month, and you’ll
start physical therapy
soon after the operation.
You’ll have some activity
restrictions at first, but
in the long term you’re
likely to enjoy improved
motion and better shoul-
The AAOS reports
that shoulder replace-
ment may be considered
if you have:
Severe shoulder pain
that interferes with daily
Moderate to severe
pain while resting. It
may hinder sleep.
Loss of motion
or weakness in the
with other treatments.
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